A How-To Guide for Your Perfect Profile Picture
Amy Sept
May 1, 2020
5 Min Read

A How-To Guide for Your Perfect Profile Picture

Your profile is how you present yourself to the world. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, what does your profile picture say about you?

Humans make judgments based on a rapid first impression and your profile photo helps potential clients get a sense of who you are. Businesses want to work with people they trust, and if they don’t see a photo that conveys friendliness and professionalism, they may move on.

To help attract clients and stand out from the crowd, keep these tips in mind when selecting your perfect profile picture.

1) Find your best light

Shady areas outdoors—without direct sunlight or on a cloudy day—are a great lighting choice. Inside, avoid overhead light, which creates harsh shadows, and instead look for natural light.

2) Simplify the background

Look for a plain and light background that is clear and uncluttered. A solid, not-too-bright wall—such as the side of a concrete or brick building—or a simple outdoor background might work well.

3) Focus on your face

Face the camera straight on or with your shoulders at a slight angle. Crop the image so you only include your head and the top of your shoulders. Dress in professional attire and remember to smile! Clients find smiling freelancers more warm, friendly, and trustworthy.

4) Get ready for the photoshoot

Have someone take your photo for you, or set up a tripod and take the photo yourself, and select the highest resolution to help ensure a crisp photo. Consider taking multiple photos, in several locations and with different poses, so you’ll have a variety to choose from.

Pro Tip: Get a second opinion on your new profile photo by using It’s a free service to help you get feedback from others about how they perceive your profile picture.

Do vs. don’t examples

profile photo, bad photo composition

Bad photo composition
Poor light / too dark.
Not looking at camera.

profile photo, good photo composition

Good photo composition
Good lighting.
Facing the camera.

profile photo, bad setting

Bad photo setting
Too much body.
Cluttered workspace.

Good photo setting
Framed into his face.
Simple background.


Bad photo cropping
Full upper body.
Face is hard to see.

Good photo cropping
Cropped around face.
Clean background.

Example profile photo: Distracting background and too informal.
Example profile photo: Good focus on face.

Distracting background / too informal
Attire is too casual.
Eyes covered by sunglasses.

Focus on face
Professional attire.
Smiling, looking into camera.

Ready to improve your Upwork profile photo? You can change it in your profile settings.

Check out these other posts to help improve your freelancer profile:

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